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Guest blog: Retail trucks roll into Columbus

Posted by Taylor Rogers on February 21, 2014

(Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of blogs from Andrea Archibald, owner of Simply Vague, on the local movement and small independent retailers in the area. Archibald profiles a new startup or small business in each of her guest blogs. Read her first blog here.) 

by Andrea Archibald

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After working several retail positions for different companies, Catherine Shadeed of Columbus decided that 2013 would be the year she would open a brick-and-mortar location of her own.  

But Shadeed's dreams of owning her own business were put on hold when she had trouble finding the perfect space for her very first storefront. The high cost of rent for prime areas in Columbus didn’t fit into her business plan, but she didn't let that discourage her. After reading an article about fashion trucks and their popularity in western states, she immediately knew that a mobile boutique was the right fit for her business and Columbus would embrace the new concept.

Opening a brick-and-mortar retail location is often a big undertaking for first-time entrepreneurs. There are so many costs associated, lease terms that need to be taken into consideration and of course the location is a huge factor. Mobile boutiques are becoming a solution for more small business owners who are redefining what it means to have a storefront.

The average cost to start a mobile retail truck is $20,000, depending on the amount of work a particular concept requires. That’s often a fraction of the cost required to open a traditional retail space.  

Because of the cost and flexibility that mobile retail stores offer, the trend is quickly gaining popularity in Columbus and throughout the U.S. Since 2011, The American Mobile Retail Association has grown from five members located in California to 70 members throughout the country. The organization works to educate public and city officials on the many benefits of mobile retail while working to lift outdated restrictions on mobile retail vending.

On June 28, 2013, Shadeed’s The Boutique Truck officially opened for business, making its debut at the Powell Festival in downtown Powell. The Boutique Truck is the first mobile fashion truck in Columbus offering affordable women's clothing and accessories to trendsetting women on the go.

"Columbus is such a wonderful community that truly wants to support local businesses," Shadeed said. "Not only does The Boutique Truck partner with other local businesses for special events on a regular basis, we also set up shop at local festivals and street markets."

Mobile retail shops can also be a good solution for existing businesses that are looking to add a second location. Three-year-old men's clothing store Pursuit, located at 1572 N. High St., recently added a second location in the form of a "suit truck" that will allow them to "pop up" at offices, campuses and events. Pursuit will introduce their mobile shop to the public on Friday, Feb. 21, at a launch party at The Torpedo Room.

Look for Columbus' mobile retailers at events like Gallery Hop, ComFest and Moonlight Market, and expect to see more mobile shops rolling into Columbus in the very near future.

Andrea Archibald is the owner of Simply Vague, a pair of locally focused stores at Polaris Fashion Place and The Mall at Tuttle Crossing. You can reach her at simplyvaguestore@gmail.com.

Interested in guest blogging for us? Read our guidelines for guest columns and blogs. 

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